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Impact parameters in an entrepreneurial career determination model from cognition and social network perspectives

Cheng, Zhi Hui (2014) Impact parameters in an entrepreneurial career determination model from cognition and social network perspectives. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.

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Abstract

The background to this study relates to the policy of the Chinese government to encourage university graduates to become entrepreneurs as a means of addressing unemployment in China. Far less than the expected number of university graduates however engage in an entrepreneurial career which leads one to question the effectiveness of this policy initiative. A number of critical issues arise. First, although the government’s policy incentives may have a positive impact on the take-up of entrepreneurial careers, there is insufficient research to justify the kind of support currently being implemented by the Chinese government. Second, while some studies have shown that one’s social network is a significant attribute in the decision to become an entrepreneur, the empirical evidence is mixed. Other studies have shown that entrepreneurial cognition is a crucial antecedent to whether people choose to become entrepreneurs. Few studies however have examined the relationship between one’s social network and cognition, and their relationship to how entrepreneurial intentions are formed. In addressing these gaps, the thesis investigates how the characteristics of an individual’s social network affect the formation of his or her entrepreneurial intentions directly and via entrepreneurial cognition. The findings of this study contribute to the literature in three respects. The first contribution comes from the argument that one’s social network properties and in particular, one’s entrepreneurial social network, directly influence cognition during the formation of entrepreneurial intentions. The second contribution reveals alternative measures and hence explanations of entrepreneurship in relation to one’s social capital, one’s social network characteristics and other factors. The third contribution rests on the analytical approach, which uses the technics of structural equation modeling (SEM) to reveal the relationship between critical realism and conceptions. As the analysis show, SEM is an appropriate and effective approach to the confirmatory analysis. Essentially, it enables integrating knowledge and by drawing together parameter variables and latent variables, it offers concurrent understanding of the critical insight of the focal problem of why some people choose to be entrepreneurs.

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